Chapter 26: Insert Self

Bonjour, readers!

Okay, so, change of plans. We're addressing self-inserts today.

This is a relatively straightforward concept, so this is going to be a relatively short chapter. Fair warning; this is still a lesson to be learned.

-Example A-

Marisol Bertram sat back in her desk chair, and eyed her blaring computer thoughtfully. Her dark brown eyes perused the contents of her profile, and paused at the sight of the three stories listed right at the bottom.

A Kingdom Hearts one-shot where she killed off stupid Xion so that her Axel/Roxas fantasies could be better recorded. Check. A multi-chapter Contestshipping story where heroic Drew saved May from that awful Brendan. Check. And a discontinued Digimon fanfic detailing why Takato was better for Rika than dumb Ryo. Check.

There was something missing though, and Marisol gasped with realization as her eyes settled upon the game console sitting atop her nightstand. A Nintendo DS! And, she knew what game was in it; Pokémon Pearl!

Hit with inspiration, Marisol immediately began writing.

Starly squawked loudly and Bidoof bounced joyfully as the sun rose up to announce the morning. Someone else rose up to, out of a peaceful sleep in bed; aspiring Pokémon trainer Marisol Bertram.

Marisol stopped and backspaced. She couldn't use her last name. Such a silly idea! Then, people could Google her!

Marisol Bennett had just celebrated her tenth birthday the day before, and her body was jittery with excitement. Hurrying out of bed, she rushed out of her pajamas and into her journey outfit. It was cool, stylish attire made complete with black fingerless gloves and a purple scarf!

Sitting at her vanity table, Marisol proceeded to brush through her long, shiny locks of dirty-blonde hair. It reached the small of her back, and it was slightly wavy. In the sun, it shined and sparkled like old gold. Quickly, the ten-year old swept her hair up into a ponytail, and she fastened it with a purple ribbon that matched her scarf.

Smiling, Marisol touched her own shiny, dirty-blond ponytail and patted her purple scarf. She didn't have the same fingerless gloves, but if she could, she would!

Last of all, Marisol plucked a silver locket from the top drawer of her vanity mirror. It was a shiny, old thing, an old family heirloom that held old powers and secrets. In its center, a purple gem glowed with an enchanted aura of mystic. Immediately, Marisol put it on and fastened the hardy clasp.

Marisol wished she had a magical locket, but she didn't! This one would have to do.

Gathering up her stuff and bags, Marisol hurried downstairs and into her kitchen. She ate breakfast alone, her parents having left for work already. They had seen her off the night before.

"My parents leave for work early, too," Marisol said, nodding to her computer.

Bags packed and feeling ready, Marisol hurried outside and leapt onto her bike. She contemplated who to pick as she pedaled her way down the dusty road to Sandgem Town. Turtwig, Chimchar, or Piplup? Decisions, decisions, decisions. And so little time to make them!

"Torterra is ugly, and so is Infernape," Marisol said, starting a new paragraph. "Piplup's cute and Empoleon's neat. Maybe I'll do something different though . . ."

She skipped to the lab, and quickly went into action.

"I'm afraid that you've come late, and now, all of the starters are gone," Professor Rowan said.

"Are you serious, Professor?" Marisol exclaimed. "B-but, now what do I do?"

"Well, we do have another . . ."

The final Pokéball, containing the extra Pokémon, was black and orange. An Ultra Ball.

Excitedly, Marisol scooped it up, and released the Pokémon held within. It stood up to her waist, blue and black with a mask-like marking around its eyes.

"Ri?" it questioned, looking around. Its dog-like ears perked up. "Riolu?"

Before Marisol could even greet her starter, the glass windows suddenly cracked and uniformed people swarmed into the room. Assistants and scientists were shoved onto floors as guns trained upon the professor and upon Marisol!

Marisol stopped there. What a perfect first chapter! It would gain many readers, she knew. Now, all she needed to do was post it!

She had done away with the standard starters and gone with the cool Pokémon instead. Riolu! Marisol loved Riolu and she loved its evolution, Lucario, even more. It only made sense that her OC get to have one! And, when she got to Iron Island, she'd get another one from that NPC. Then, she'd have two of them!

"That cliffhanger will leave everyone hanging too," Marisol said, posting her chapter online.

Her mind whirred with infinite possibilities. Her OC, Marisol, was going to have one fun adventure catching legendaries, using her magic necklace, and saving the world via an ancient prophecy!

Wish-fulfillment. That's all these stories are.

When you create a self-insert—which is to say, an OC who shares your name, appearance, likes, dislikes, etc.—you are basically making an attempt to insert yourself into a story. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The bad thing is that self-inserts are almost never complete self-inserts.

If you're a scrawny kid with no muscle in real life, you might write yourself into a story where you're tall and brawny. If you don't see yourself as attractive or smart, you might write yourself into a story where you're beautiful, admired, and intelligent.

In other words, it's wish-fulfillment.

In the example, Marisol plays this straight by giving her self-insert her appearance, looks, and name. The Sueishness comes into play when she gives her OC a magic necklace and a rare starter Pokémon for no discernible reasons.

Now, for the next example, I want to make one thing clear; making an OC similar to yourself is not a bad thing.

Write what you know.

That phrase is tossed around just as frequently as show, don't tell. For good reason, too!

If your parents are divorced, consider giving your OC a similar backstory.

If you've taken dance lessons since kindergarten, consider giving your OC the same hobby.

If you enjoy sci-fi movies and eating contests, consider having your OC be the same way.

However, be forewarned, writing what you know does not translate to "make your characters exactly like you." It means, draw inspiration and knowledge from your own experiences.

For example, several of my trainer OCs are short for their age. When I was about ten or eleven—the age of most of these OCs—I was small for my age and very self-conscious of it. These characters aren't me, but depending on how they deal with their short statures, I can draw events from my time as a pre-teen shorty.

Similarly, I have brothers. Most of my OCs have brothers rather than sisters. I don't have anything against sisters, but I think that I write brother-sister relationships better than I do sister-sister relationships if only because I don't have sisters.

Also, as quick clarification, this doesn't mean that I'm incapable of writing sister-sister relationships, but simply that I have to put more effort into doing so. Or, at least, I used to.

One other thing to remember is that you shouldn't ever try too hard when writing. Find ways and methods to make it come easier. Never try too hard. Simply give it your best shot and see how it goes. This is a site for improving on your writing skills, and you have doubts, find a good reviewer and ask them to review your work.

-Example B-

Maxine chewed her lip and stared blankly at the open word document before her. Her mind ran blank on ideas. She wanted a trainer story, but she didn't know where to start. The name, the region, the starter . . . none of it came to her as naturally as she would've liked.

'I could try to draw inspiration from myself,' the teenaged fanfic writer thought, glancing about her bedroom. To stall time, she rearranged how she sat upon her bed and adjusted her laptop screen. 'But, where do I start?'

A region would do. Maybe Hoenn. Maxine had always liked Hoenn the most for its tropical look. And, additionally, Pokémon Sapphire had been her very first game. This fanfic would work as a possible nostalgia filter.

'Okay. Hoenn.' Maxine went to an Internet page and typed in Bulbapedia's home page. Once the site displayed Hoenn's map and town listing, she pondered further. 'The hometown can be . . . Rustboro City.'

This helped somewhat, and it provided progress. Rustboro City was different from the typical Littleroot Town. And since Pokémon Centers had been shown to give out Pokémon starters in the anime canon, it wouldn't be too ridiculous to give her OC one of Hoenn's.

'I like Mudkip,' Maxine thought with a smile. 'But, maybe my OC doesn't. Maybe she prefers Treecko. And, maybe she could be a girly girl?'

Maxine herself wasn't a girly-girl, or a tomboy, but somewhere in-between. But, then again, she wasn't her character.

Maxine began typing, going into great detail to better describe Rustboro's urban, city feel. She also described the neighboring Route 116. An idea suddenly sprung to mind.

'She'll catch Skitty!' Maxine decided.

It was a girly enough Pokémon, fitting for the character. And, it was also a personal decision for the OC, as Maxine always made sure to catch herself a Skitty every time she restarted her Pokémon Sapphire game for kicks.

Finally, descriptions through, Maxine settled upon a name for her character. Yolanda. She had always liked the name enough, and one of her long-ago Barbie dolls had had the name. It only made sense to use it, as a tribute to childhood times.

When it came to describing her character, Maxine gave Yolanda the same curly, black hair as her own. She gave her OC gray eyes though, instead of her own brown eyes. Additionally, she decided that Yolanda would be black, despite Maxine being Hispanic herself.

'It's not as if your character has to be the exact same race as you,' Maxine thought, continuing to type. 'We wouldn't make progress in this world if we stuck to that ridiculous untold rule.'

For Yolanda's home life, Maxine made her an only child just like herself. But, she also gave Yolanda both of her parents rather than just her father. Maxine's own mother had died when she had only been an infant, so she only had her dad.

'Well, Yolanda can have both parents.'

Finally, Yolanda got her starter, a snippy Treecko, and headed for Route 116. Maxine chuckled as her OC argued with her Treecko and failed to immediately catch Skitty.

'I never caught Skitty right away either. They're so rare. But, maybe Yolanda is impatient and impulsive. That would add to her difficulties.' Maxine nodded to herself, and continued writing to her heart's content.

Her blank mind was gone, and assertiveness was ever present.

See? You can give some of your hobbies, personality traits, fears, and such to your OCs. Just make it realistic for the situation, and you should be good to go.

Also, always look up to see what Pokémon are native to your character's hometown. That way, you won't make the mistake of having them catch a Dratini in Sunyshore City.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, we'll tackled Mystery Dungeon and Pokémon Rangers in the next chapter. If you can think of any, please leave a few suggestions for what I should address in regards to those two subjects; I don't read very many fanfics that use those games' worlds.

Hope that you enjoyed! Please leave a review if you're able!